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Detailed video recordings of the suckling behavior of one piglet from each of four litters were analyzed to determine how the components of piglet suckling behavior are organized in relation to the time of milk ejection and the temporal pattern of grunting by the sow. Early in the suckling episode, most piglets massaged the udder with their snouts, and then changed gradually to sucking the teats with slow mouth movements (1-2/sec). The piglets then had a distinct phase of sucking with rapid mouth movements (4-5/sec) which began suddenly and lasted about 5 to 15 sec. The weight gains of piglets removed at different times, showed that piglets consumed milk during the fast sucking but not during the preceding slow sucking, regardless of how much slow sucking had occurred. Three of the four sows showed a characteristic increase in rate of grunting about 20 to 25 sec before fast sucking began. The piglets' change from massaging to slow sucking often coincided with the increase in grunt rate, but the timing of the transition varied greatly. This suggests that the change in grunting is one but not the only cue used by the piglets to time their suckling behavior. During the slow, nonnutritive sucking, mouth movements were highly variable in duration, with occasional short bursts of rapid mouth movements. This contrasted with the more uniform duration of fast sucking movements. Evidently, in piglets, nutritive and nonnutritive sucking differ in both rate and temporal patterning.


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